Foots Cray dates back to the Domesday Book, taking its name from the Saxon landowner and the River Cray. From it Sidcup grew, from a tiny hamlet into a residential suburb of south-east London, ultimately dwarfing Foots Cray. Foots Cray lay on the London to Maidstone road, which joined London to Dover. By the eighteenth century there were several stately homes, convenient country estates for politicians with London town houses; nobles like Earl Sydney, Lord Castlereagh and Lord Bexley. Footprints of their estates remain as parks. The coming of the railway in 1865 led to the further growth of Sidcup, a largely middle-class area linked to Chislehurst, and only separated from it by the creation of the London Borough of Bexley, which moved it into the new Borough, much to the aggravation of many residents. Pevsner called Sidcup the 'ultra montes' of Chislehurst. It is no longer. In this full-colour illustrated book, John Mercer explores the history of the area, as well as the main events and characters in its past.
John Mercer served in the Royal Artillery as a signaler from 1942 until 1947. Later, he pursued a career in education, becoming a schoolteacher and then a college lecturer. Brought up in Bexleyheath, John Mercer has lived in Sidcup since 1957 and has written several books on local history and two on military memoirs. Before retiring he taught locally and in a former London Polytechnic.